Returning to Pandora

Late Monday night (Technically Tuesday morning) I, like many, returned to Pandora.

Nope. Wrong Pandora. I returned to THIS Pandora

Borderlands was an odd game for me. It was somewhat of a sleeper hit when it was first released. I had heard a bit about it, and bought it for my brother as a birthday gift, because it sounded like his kind of game. Lo and behold, it was. He was really enjoying it, while I mostly dismissed it. Then came the fateful day when I decided to see what all the fuss was about and watch him play.

After watching him brutally murder a few Psychos and Bandits with an incredibly diverse set of weapons, only to discover two red loot chests containing even MORE diverse weapons, I was hooked. I NEEDED that game. I went out later that day and bought it, without having played a second of it. All I wanted to do was get home, pop in the game, and start killing things and finding badass guns. Oops. Turns out that Borderlands isn’t that exciting from the get-go. In fact, I quit playing after a while because it was TOO boring. I was bored through most of the Arid Badlands, and just quit. Eventually I went back to it and found that the story picks up pretty rapidly after that. Plus, you start finding the really fun weapons. Eventually, I put enough hours into Borderlands to max out a character, finish both playthroughs, and raise a few more characters to respectable levels.

Fast forward to Monday night. I got to Best Buy around 11:45 for the midnight release of Borderlands 2. Other than a brief hands-on at the Gearbox booth during PAX East, I hadn’t followed much about the game at this point other than the fact that its more Borderlands. Sure, I’ve seen a few trailers, and I know the character classes, but I purposely avoided any story information because I wanted it to be fresh. Shortly after they opened the doors, I bought my copy and headed home.

Since I’d already promised my Gunzerker skills to the crack team of ChurchsWife (Siren), KnucklesDawson (Commando), and evilcrash9 (Assassin), and since we weren’t going to be playing for another 2 hours (Midnight PST), I decided to go ahead and start the game as a Commando and play until they were ready to go. Cue more colors than all of Borderlands 1 (Blue! And green! And still some brown, but that’s cool!), lots and lots of guns, and a much better start than the first game. Maybe its because I already know and love Borderlands, but this game seemed to start a lot faster than the original. Looking back, they both have the same premise (Do a few basic quests in an empty town), but they felt very different.

When it finally came time to join my aforementioned teammates, I switched over to my Gunzerker, and we went to work. Borderlands is infinitely more fun when experienced in a group. We laughed, we swore, we killed, we killed some more, we argued over loot, we shared loot… we had a blast! We played for about 3 hours, then called it quits until the next day when we played for another 4 or so. So far this is one of my favorite experiences in my long history of gaming. Co-op gameplay at its finest!

If a Borderlands 3 is ever made, I’d like to see them expand the co-op a bit. I imagine they playtested this at some point and it just didn’t work, but I’d like to see more players at once. Perhaps 6? To me, “the more the merrier” applies. I think the Borderlands universe is also ripe for an MMO with a persistent world and TONS of players. Not sure if Gearbox would go that route, but the IP seems suited for it.

If you don’t see me for the next few days/weeks/months, you’ll probably want to check my Xbox LIVE status. Odds are, I’ll be exploring Pandora to find that gun that’s just right. And if you know anything about Borderlands, you know that could take a VERY long time


Saturday Shenanigans

As much as I’d like to (and should) write a recap of PAX last weekend, I’m going to skip it. There was just too much awesome to condense into a blog post. Instead, I’ll just recap THIS weekend.

This weekend was my first run of Command Central 2012. I started cleaning and building in preparation for Saturday when I got home from work Friday evening. It was no trivial task, as my living room hadn’t been cleaned in two weeks or so. Not only did I have to get things cleaned up, I also had to make sure everything was set up and wired for Saturday morning…

State of my Living Room – 9/7/2012 5:30PM CST

The task seemed pretty daunting, but I love a challenge. I also love football, and what could motivate me more than that?

SomLR – 9/7/2012 7:30PM CST

Before long, things began to take shape. With most of the clutter moved away, I was able to configure the left side of my setup. The cabling, at this point, is pretty messy, and I actually figured out ways to improve it last night during tear-down. I also had to make some minor adjustments in the placement of some screens, to ensure that all were visible from every seat in the room.

SomLR – 9/7/2012 8:00PM CST

Finally, after only two and a half hours, I’m ready. Computers a

re all in place, monitors and TVs are wired up, and I’m all set for Saturday. I settled in for the rest of Utah-Utah State, played a bit of Rock Band Blitz, double-checked the schedule and all my tech, and then headed off to bed.

Saturday was coming.



My phone alarm begins playing a familiar tune, signaling that Saturday has begun. I’m out of bed, dressed in early game-day attire, and in position just in time to see/hear “Coming to Your City”.


Good Morning Game Day!

At this point, I’ve got three hours to double-check my fantasy/pick’em selections, get/make something for breakfast (Settled on breakfast tacos because, well, who wouldn’t?), and then power everything up for the 11am block of games.

I have to hand it to the Aggies, they put on a pretty good show for Game Day. It was a good crowd, though not the best I’ve seen. Corso’s antics were hilarious as always. I took the opportunity during Game Day to tidy up a bit more and make a quick run to HEB for some supplies for the day. Upon my return, it was time to start the show.


Beep Bop Boop Beep

“…why did all the lights just dim a little bit?” – Everyone else in my apartment complex


Football on 7 screens. The day’s schedule on the 8th.

Ready for kickoff! Six of the seven main screens are set to show a single game. The seventh screen is split for 3 games and ESPN Goal Line. The eighth screen serves as my schedule, tweet machine, and fantasy/pick’em tracker.

The early games were relatively uneventful. I kept a close eye on Kansas State as they mudholed Miami, but Ohio State and South Carolina didn’t go unnoticed. The only other interesting game was Penn State and Virginia, but that didn’t become entertaining until the very end, and then it was just a really sad spectacle.

During the early games, my cousin, aunt, and a few friends arrived (bearing gifts of homemade pizza rolls(!!!), avocado fries (!!!), queso, chips, and some dessert bars (!!!!!)) to join in the fun. We also learned that my uncle would soon be on his way with some deliciousness from Franklin Barbecue.


Family, friends, food, and football. Fantastic!

As the early games began to wind down, the barbecue arrived and we had lunch. Not too shabby, though I’ll admit I’m a bit biased.

Covering the Spread

Everything was incredible. I hope every Saturday this season tastes as good!


Time for the afternoon games! This slate was headlined by Florida and Texas A&M entertaining us with all manner of shenanigans. Laughter abounds. USC was impressive after they got going, Notre Dame played a decent game, and the Fightin’ Greg Davises played Iowa State in the most Big Ten game imaginable. Oh, and we finally found a food that could defeat Charlie Weis (Rice!).


I’ll never be able to explain the difference between the walk to the stadium and the walk to work I make every single day. They’re physically identical for the first half, but feel completely different. The excitement of game day is directly opposite my unenthusiastic approach to work each morning. And sure, it may take a bit more work and the seat may be more uncomfortable, but if I could sit here every day instead of in my office I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Feels like home

I could try to describe how much I love sitting in that stadium, but I’d never do it justice. So instead I’ll just insert two more pictures and smile.


It’s only logical to follow a great day and night of football with more games, right? That’s exactly what we did! After the Texas game wrapped up, I hosted game night for some friends (With the late-night football of Oklahoma State-Arizona, Duke-Stanford, and Illinois-Arizona State on in the background, of course). We played Cards Against Humanity (a lot of first-timers!) with the new expansion, which meant we were either thinking or laughing the entire night (oh, or eating. We had even MORE delicious food!). I wish I could remember some of the awesome card combinations, but unfortunately they just didn’t stick in my head. As expected when I first bought the game, CAH has become a group favorite, and will be featured at many game nights to come.

After a while of CAH, a good chunk of the group had to head home, but those that stayed were treated with the first game of “We Didn’t Playtest This At All” for our group. That game is… interesting. Looking back, it was a lot of fun, but it didn’t feel fun at the time. The game is supposed to feel very chaotic and unpredictable, and that isn’t my style at all. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more after playing a few more times.


Power off. Shower. Bed. Zzzzzz…


And that’s that! Next week will be more of the same, minus actually attending the Texas game, since they’ll be at Ole Miss. And maybe minus the game night, but I’m undecided. But if you’re in Austin and want to join in the football watching, just let me know!


Perhaps its because I focus so much of my year around football season, but this time of year always puts me in a strange place. Every September, I find myself looking back at the past few years and everything that I’ve done. This year isn’t much different, except for the fact that I’m looking back without really knowing what is ahead.

Last year I looked back on my last year of college and looked forward to my first year in the “real world”. The year before that I looked back on my entire college career and looked forward to finishing it up. This year though, I’m reflecting on the past and genuinely questioning what the future will be.

Now when I say I’m reflecting, I don’t mean I’m longing for what once was, or regretting things I did/didn’t do. I’m just taking stock of what my life has been, what it is, and what it will be.

I find it interesting that I always end up in this place, because I really don’t have any regrets. Maybe one or two, but those regrets are part of who I am now. When I look back on the last 5 or so years, I can’t think of anything that I’d really do differently. I’m happy with who and where I am. I’d maybe change some minor things, do more, maybe take a few more risks, but I wouldn’t want to change my life as it is now. But where do I want my life to go from here?

I struggle with that question a lot, because I genuinely don’t know. One of the few things that I’m sure of is that I don’t want to leave Austin. I love this city, despite all its flaws, and I want to stay here as long as possible. Besides that though, I don’t know.

Do I want a new job? Maybe. I like my current job, but I certainly don’t LOVE it. Do I want to go back to school? Probably not. I’ve given it thought, but I don’t see it as being useful to me. I just want to DO something. I feel like I’m just stuck spinning my wheels. I don’t have a destination.

I’ve been struggling to find motivation to move forward lately, but I think I finally found what will drive me to be productive. Ironically, its nothing new. Its the same as it ever was.

Just like every team that takes the field this season, I have to be the best. I have to win.

And rest assured, I will.